A lesson for Father McBrien

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Richard O’Brien, a professor at Notre Dame and a priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Hartford, is an example of what ails us. The Citizen routinely trolls the National Catholic Reporter – among other so-called ‘Catholic’ publications – for the latest in schismatic thought. Fr. McBrien recently wrote an article complaining about the resistance of American Bishops and the Obama health care plan. It should be obvious, Father. But seeing how you work for Father Jenkins, this shouldn’t be surprising.

President Obama signed an executive order. Big deal. The authority that lies behind an executive order is practically non-existent. There is no specific clause in the Constitution that confers this power. The closest thing to justification for the practice of the executive order is found in Article II

…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Since 1789, this has been interpreted as meaning that the President had the authority to issue orders necessary to ensure the smooth operation of executive agencies and other instruments of government independent of constant congressional oversight. Until the Twentieth Century, there was essentially no public knowledge of executive orders. In 1952, the Supreme Court weighed in – for the first time – on the practice of executive orders. Executive orders have been used  for activities as mundane as establishing protocol or temporary appointments to the 1999 order that Clinton signed to authorize the use of American military force in Kosovo.

Perhaps the most important element of the Executive Order is that it only carries the weight the sitting president chooses to give it. Obama wrote an order limiting abortion. Tomorrow, he can write an order rescinding it. Congress can do nothing to stop it. The Supreme Court can do nothing. Bart Stupak can’t take his ‘yea’ vote back. It is over. I wonder if Professor Richard McBrien knows this. One hopes so – ignorance is so much easier to accept in a priest than active collusion.

McBrien quotes an article in Commonweal as an authoritative source. Unfortunately, the author of this article is equally ignorant of the true scope of the executive order. Both articles claim that the administration and the current congressional leadership have proven their willingness to act under the provisions once guaranteed by the Hyde Amendment. Nonsense.

How about the aggressive actions in Congress opening access to abortion in military bases at home and abroad? Did you hear about that, Professor McBrien? Or perhaps the comments VP Biden made to Kenya about writing access to abortion into their constitution?

It is unfortunate that a Catholic priest defends a president and congressional leaders who fought to keep the Hyde Amendment out of their patient care act. Why? If Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were serious about preserving the existing protections for the unborn, then tell me why they were unwilling to compromise? Please, Father – explain.

Of course this article was written by a priest who last year wrote “…how far the Catholic church in the United States has fallen from the high standards of leadership that they [Bernadin and Hesburgh] set.”

Father McBrien seeks leaders who agree with the ‘seamless garment’ philosophy – even if it runs contrary to the Magisterium. This infatuation with the ‘social justice’ approach that is popular with the intelligentsia is unfortunate. It’s tragic coming from the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. Didn’t they teach any American history in the Seminary? Don’t you know any history professors at Notre Dame?

Oh, of course you do – but they are socialist gospel activists too….how silly of me!


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